Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 18th 2013 Contents B6
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, July 18, 2013
It was a year ago this week that
the sickening sound of gunfire
rang out at a midnight screening
of The Dark Knight Rises in Auro-
ra, Colorado. The mass shooting
reverberated painfully in Holly-
wood, and how could it not? It
happened at the movies.
Five months later, the horrific
massacre of first-graders at the
Sandy Hook Elementary School in
Newtown, Connecticut, launched
yet more reflection---about gun
control, certainly, but also about
entertainment content, particularly
violent video games said to be
favoured by the killer.
And yet, in the year since Aurora,
seemingly little has overtly changed
in the area of violence in enter-
tainment, save the notable musings
of actor Jim Carrey, who tweeted
misgivings about his latest film,
Kick-Ass 2, after Newtown: "Now
in all good conscience I cannot sup-
port that level of violence," he
And some ask: If nothing
changes now, will it ever?
"My fear is that we have such a
short attention span," says Chuck
Williams, a youth violence expert
at Drexel University who s especially
troubled by movies that depict
"stylised" violence. "And as a soci-
ety, we don t like being on a diet.
We want to consume what we
want, when we want it."
Certainly, screen violence is a
complex issue. Studies have not
shown clear links with real-world
violence; in video games, which
have undergone the most scrutiny
lately, many researchers say the
evidence just isn t there.
There s also the spectre of cen-
sorship and infringement on artistic
freedom, something that raises
hackles instantly in the entertain-
ment industry. And, of course,
there s the issue of gun control.
Many in Hollywood say that s where
the focus should be, while the gun
lobby has suggested violent images
in entertainment and games are
more to blame than access to guns.
"The issue makes a lot of people
uncomfortable in Hollywood---they
don t really want to deal with it,"
says Janice Min, editor of The Hol-
lywood Reporter trade publication.
She notes that after Aurora, pro-
ducer Harvey Weinstein called for
a summit of filmmakers to discuss
screen violence---but it never hap-
pened. And one of Weinstein s
favoured filmmakers, Quentin
Tarantino, director of films like the
bloody Western Django Unchained,
is angered by the mere question of
a link between entertainment and
"I ve been asked this question
for 20 years," he said in a tense
exchange on NPR. "Obviously, I
don t think one has to do with the
Of Newtown, he said, "Obviously
the issue is gun control and mental
Others say it s not so obvious;
it s a whole slew of issues. "We can t
allow this conversation to be Only
about gun control," says Williams.
"Nothing will happen."
"There are so many competing
factors," says Timothy Gray, a senior
VP at the industry trade publication
Variety who edited a post-Newtown
issue on violence. "The more you
pull at the thread, it makes people
crazy. People in entertainment say,
It s not entirely our fault. OK, but
there s a difference between that
and saying we re not going to con-
tribute at all to the discussion."
Gray says he d like to think the
dialogue is changing, but he s not
so sure. And, he adds, "it s hard,
when the public seems to want this
And yet, tastes may be shifting.
An Associated Press-GfK poll in
January found that 54 per cent of
adults would support a policy lim-
iting "the amount and type of gun
violence that can be portrayed in
video games, in movies or on tel-
evision." Other polls at the time
found similar misgivings about vio-
And, says Min, while summer
offerings are heavy on violent
blockbusters, a number have tanked
at the box office, perhaps indicating
that the public---especially the
female segment, she feels---is feel-
ing alienated from the product.
(Though four of the five top-gross-
ing films so far this year have PG-
13 ratings warning of violence.)
"I don t think there s any soul-
searching about violence on the
part of studio executives," Min says.
"But if a different kind of movie
does well, you ll see others coming
out like it."
After all: "It s all driven by eco-
nomics in Hollywood." (AP)
Have Aurora, Newtown affected screen violence?
After the Newtown shootings, actor Jim
Carrey tweeted he couldn't support the level
of violence in his upcoming film Kick Ass 2.
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